Oct. 4 (UPI) -- After enduring one of the most significant measles outbreaks in decades this year, the United States will narrowly keep its "eliminated" status for the disease, the Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.
The United States has held the measles-free distinction -- given by the World Health Organization to nations that demonstrate a verifiable absence of virus transmission for at least a full year -- for almost two decades, but an outbreak of nearly 1,300 cases this year threatened the status.
A significant portion of the outbreak was seen in New York, where three-quarters of all U.S. cases were documented. The HHS said the designation was kept after New York health officials said the outbreak there has ended.
"We are very pleased that the measles outbreak has ended in New York and that measles is still considered eliminated in the United States," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "This result is a credit to the cooperative work by local and state health departments, community and religious leaders, other partners, and the CDC.
"But this past year's outbreak was an alarming reminder about the dangers of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the last measles outbreak in New York City and the state was recorded a year ago. It was declared finished statewide on Thursday.
Thirty-one states have documented cases of the measles this year.
The WHO declared the United States measles-free in 2000.